Counting the Cost by Pastor Abidan Shah

COUNTING THE COST by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

COUNTING THE COSTIntroduction: Have you ever heard the expression “counting the cost?” It means to evaluate whether or not something is worth doing. Last Monday I had to “count the cost” when we went with our Converge College and Career Group to a water park. They have this ride there called the “Daredevil Drop.” It’s a 76-foot foot tall water slide. I saw it as Nicole and I were going down the “Lazy River.” Something inside me said, “Won’t that be cool if you could do that and let Nicole video it! Imagine how much fun that would be! Imagine how many likes you could get on Facebook and Instagram! Imagine how many more people would come to Clearview just to see the Daredevil preacher!” So, we went and stood at the base and I watched people slide down, even kids. I counted the cost and it wasn’t worth it! I chickened out. I couldn’t give up my fear. So also, when it comes to our salvation, we have to count the cost. We have to ask ourselves, “What all am I willing to give up in order to be saved?” Please don’t misunderstand. Giving up doesn’t save us. Salvation from start to finish is the work of God. It’s only by grace through faith in the cross of Jesus and the empty tomb that we are saved. But, being willing to give up everything reveals whether or not we understand the gospel. It demonstrates how sincere and how committed we are to follow Christ our king.

 Mark 10   17Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” . . . 23Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” . . . 26And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

Question: Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Are you willing to give up all in order to follow Christ? What is keeping you from following Christ? Are you saved?

Context: This series on the gospel has been impactful on so many levels. It has opened our eyes to the true meaning of the gospel. It has confronted our complacency and tolerance for sin in our lives. It has challenged us to live out the faith that we claim to have. And, more than anything, it has demanded from us unconditional allegiance to our Savior and King Jesus. In this message, we’re going to meet a young man who came to Jesus with all the right intentions but he walked away from eternal life because he was unwilling to give up everything he had. 3 things that we will learn from this passage:

I. JESUS DID NOT IMMEDIATELY LEAD HIM IN THE SINNER’S PRAYER.

Mark 10    17Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”18So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No oneisgood but One, that is,God.”

Did you notice that Jesus did not immediately lead him in the Sinner’s Prayer? He was not ready for it. He was under conviction but he was not ready to make a commitment to Christ. For starters, he had a wrong understanding of Jesus. Jesus was much more than just a “Good Teacher.” He was God in flesh, the Promised One, who had come to give his life for our sins. There are people who have prayed a prayer but never got saved because they didn’t know who they were praying to or what they were praying for.

By the way, the problem is not with the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Some people don’t like that term. I had a person say to me, “There is no Sinner’s Prayer in the Bible.” I asked him if he knew that the word “Trinity” is never found in the Bible and Jesus never used the word “grace” in the gospels. The real issue is what are we saying in the Sinner’s Prayer and do we mean it.If someone thinks that just repeating a prayer is going to save them, then they are greatly mistaken. But, if someone truly repents and acknowledges that Christ is the only way to salvation, then the next step is to pray to God. What does it say in Romans 10  9“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Who do you confess to? Ultimately, to God. So, you have to talk to God and tell him that you believe. What is talking to God? Prayer. What happens when you truly pray and confess? Romans 10:13For“whoever calls on the name of the LORDshall be saved.”

Bottom Line: Jesus did not immediately lead the young man in some rote prayer. He challenged his understanding of the gospel. He challenged his understanding of himself. Jesus was much more than a “Good Teacher.” He was God in flesh.

Application:How were you saved? Was it just a rote mechanical prayer or did you truly understand the gospel that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again to save us from our sins? Have you ever prayed to receive Christ as your Savior and King?

II. JESUS CLEARLY LAID OUT THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP.  

 19You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,’ “Do not murder,’ “Do not steal,’ “Do not bear false witness,’ “Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”20And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”

At first glance, it seems that Jesus was telling this young man that by keeping the Ten Commandments, he could have eternal life! Was Jesus calling him to works salvation? Absolutely not. Paul declares very clearly in Galatians 2:21“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousnesscomesthrough the law, then Christ died in vain.”So, why did Jesus say this? Some have argued that Jesus was trying to get the young man to see the hopelessness and emptiness of keeping the Law. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the context that tells us that Jesus or the young man acknowledged that. Others have argued that Jesus was trying to get him to reject his works righteousness first. Unfortunately, Jesus did just the opposite. 21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” That’s not taking away “works righteousness,” that’s adding more “works righteousness!”

Why did Jesus bring up the 10 commandments and then tell him to sell everything and take up his cross and follow him? This young man knew that eternal life was not in keeping the Law but he was looking for an eternal life that was cheap and easy. He wanted to have the stamp of salvation and still carry on his old lifestyle. He wanted to get his certificate of the kingdom and still not obey the king. Jesus knew his heart and what he was saying to him was that “Yes, I will pay for your salvation. It’s free to you but following me will never be cheap and easy. There will be a cost to discipleship.”

Listen carefully:It cost Jesus his life to buy your pardon. If you follow him, it may cost you your life as well.” Don’t misunderstand: You don’t have to go sell everything and give to the poor before you can be saved but you be better be if your king tells you too.

Application:Have you counted the cost of discipleship? What are you willing to give up for your Savior and your King?

III. JESUS REVEALED THE SECRET TO FOLLOWING HIM. 

Mark 10   22But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

By the way, have you noticed that 3 different expressions were used for salvation?

  • The young man asked,“what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
  • Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
  • The disciples said, “Who then can be saved?

This means that the account was not just for the rich young ruler but all of us.

Now, what was Jesus’ response to his disciples?  27“. . . With menit isimpossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”If only that young man had done what Peter did when Jesus found him, this account would have a different ending. Remember, Peter had not caught anything all night and Jesus told him to launch out into the deep and drop their nets. He obeyed and there were so many fish that the net was breaking. Then it says in Luke 5:8When Simon Peter sawit,he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”Then Jesus said to Peter, 10“. . . Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” It was the Holy Spirit who enabled Peter and the rest (Andrew, James, and John) to forsake all and follow Christ.

Invitation: The question is not “Are you ableto follow Christ but are you willingto follow Christ?” If you are willing, he will do the rest. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Are you willing?

Immortal by Pastor Abidan Shah

IMMORTAL by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Immortal

Introduction:  What do these expressions mean? Assume room temperature, go belly up, bite the dust, bite the big one, cash in one’s chips, become food for worms. They’re all referring to death. Here are some more – go to the happy hunting ground, kick the bucket, push up daisies, take a dirt nap, take the last train to glory, croak, buy a pine condo, go into the fertilizer business, be stiff as a board, kick the Oxygen habit. Even we Christians have our own idioms for death – to be with the Lord, crossing the Jordan, going to a better place. These are all verbal tranquilizers meant to soften the reality of death because no one wants to deal with that subject. The believer should not fear death nor should they desire death. Instead, they should focus on living in Christ by serving one another and spreading the gospel. Question: Before we read this passage, question – Are you afraid to die? Are you afraid to live? As a believer, what are you living for? Are you saved? Our message is titled IMMORTAL in our series through Philippians.

Philippians 1   21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

Context:  21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two…” Why was Paul so conflicted between living and dying? Listen carefully – Paul was not as conflicted as it may appear. It was really the Philippians who were conflicted. If you remember from last week, I briefly explained that much of what Paul wrote was not for Paul but for the Philippians. Let me explain a little more on that: You may not be aware of this but scholars have identified 2 ways of interpreting Paul’s letters: Epistolary Analysis and Rhetorical Analysis. Epistolary Analysis means that Paul wrote his letters like a typical letter from ancient times with an opening, a middle, and a conclusion. In fact, it’s not much different than letters today, except that through the Holy Spirit, Paul’s letters became the Word of God. Rhetorical Analysis means that Paul wrote his letters more like a speech, an oratory, or, what we would call, a sermon. We know that Paul was a brilliant man, well trained in Hebrew scriptures but what many don’t realize is that he was also well educated in Greek-Roman rhetoric and he used rhetorical techniques in his writings which again through the Holy Spirit became the Word of God. The full impact of Paul’s letters is truly felt when you actually hear them, not just read them. Some people take this too far but, in moderation, this understanding is very helpful in studying Paul’s letters. One such technique that Paul often used was imitation. Instead of telling the listeners what and how to change, the speaker would tell his listeners how he struggled with the same situation and changed and the listeners would get the point. Seneca (Roman Philosopher, Rhetor, and Statesman) said “The way is long if one follows precepts, but short and helpful if one follows patterns.” Philippians 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Word to the wise, especially parents – “If you want someone to change, stop telling them what’s right and what’s wrong and start telling them how you struggled between right and wrong and chose what’s right. That will make a far greater impact.”

With this knowledge in mind, let’s re-read these verses21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” If you read this verse without thinking, you will misunderstand what Paul really meant. You may think that Paul is just struggling between living and dying. You may even walk away thinking – “A Christian cannot lose in life or death. In this life, we have Jesus and when we die, it just gets better!” Sometimes people even quote 2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Although, there is truth in the fact that a Christian cannot lose in life or death, that is not the real point of either Philippians 1:21 or 2 Corinthians 5:8. In reality, Paul was using a rhetorical technique to help the Philippians. Apparently, they were facing some difficult challenges, maybe persecution, maybe financial problems, maybe relationship struggles, or maybe health issues. They were saying things like – “I’m ready to go. I’m tired of this old world. I’m ready to walk the streets of gold. I know we have Jesus here but it will be so much better on the other side!” Does that sound familiar? You might be surprised to know that, as a pastor, I have encountered more people who are just waiting to die than those who are sacred to die. You might say, “That’s not true! No one wants to die.” Don’t misunderstand – “No one wants to suffer before they die but dying is not a problem for many people. Living is.” They are not as good looking as they used to be, strong as they used to be, too many health problems, too many children problems, too many bills, too many bad decisions they’re reaping, just too many problems. When I first came to this church, I went visiting the people on the roll with one of our deacons. We came to this one house and this elderly lady came to the door. The deacon introduced me to her. Her response – “Oh Good. Now we got somebody to bury us!” I believe that this was the same problem with the Philippians – “Living with Jesus is great but dying is better!” Paul is saying to them – “Yeah, I’ve struggled with that too but let me tell you how I handled it.”

22 “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor…” What fruit was Paul talking about? He used the same word in Romans 1:13 “Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you…that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.” The fruit that Paul was talking about is the fruit of the gospel. He wants to see souls saved. Listen carefully: When you die, the possibility of fruits end. You cannot evangelize in heaven. Neither can you evangelize in hell. Basically, for the same reasons. Neither place has unbelievers. Except that, in hell the hearts are still wicked. 22 “…yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” Remember Paul’s prayer for the Philippians in verse 10 “that you may approve the things that are excellent…” It meant “learning to choose between the good, the better, and the best.” It is “far better” to depart and be with Christ but “best” is to stay here and help you.

Application: How do you see others in this life? Do you care about those around you? You say, “I care but I’m ready to go.” Can I ask you, “Are you really eager to see Jesus or are you just trying to run away from your problems? God has a sense of humor and he will leave you here till you’re 150! It’s best to remain and help others.

25 “And being confident of this…” Paul has used that word “confidence” twice already: 6“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” 14 “and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” He will use that word again several times. That word can mean “trust” but also “conviction.” What is Paul’s conviction? 25 “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith…” It’s Paul’s conviction to stay and help the Philippians continue in their growth and joy of the Christian life.

Application: We all have doctrinal convictions about the Bible, Trinity, Salvation, Person of Christ, Holy Spirit, etc. We may also have moral convictions about marriage, unborns, sexuality, drinking, etc. That’s all wonderful but it’s time we also have some relational convictions where I am responsible for your spiritual growth and joy in the Christian life and you are for mine. When you’re not here, I care. When I’m not here, you care. Sadly, most of us have the same response that Cain did when God asked him – “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Finally – 26 “that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” The word “rejoicing” is “kaukhemai” which means “boast. Paul is not saying “You will boast of me even more when I come.” He is saying, “You will boast in Jesus even more when you see me come to you.” In other words, “Your worship will become even more powerful because you see God setting me free and sending me to you.” Some of us have a very poor worship experience because we only focus on doctrinal precepts (God is great, Jesus is wonderful, Salvation is awesome). When we change it to “God is great because of how he has worked in Pastor Shah’s life,” “Jesus is wonderful because of what he is doing at Clearview,” and “Salvation is awesome, look at that young man who just gave his life to Christ.” Now worship takes on new meaning and enthusiasm! 27 “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Again, you see the priority of the gospel.

Illustration: I used to work in an automotive plant back in Georgia. Sometimes people would quit work an hour before they were supposed to quit. Then the supervisor made it a point to come by about 15 minutes before quitting time. It wasn’t good.

As I said in the beginning, “the believer should not fear death nor should they desire death. Instead, they should focus on living in Christ by serving one another and spreading the gospel.” We are immortal in Christ. Let’s live like it! Are you saved?

Heaven Here and Now Part Three

HEAVEN HERE AND NOW – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

heavenhereandnow3Introduction: This morning we are in part 3 of our series titled “Heaven Here and Now.” The goal of these messages is to understand that heaven is not someday in the future in some distant land beyond the blue but it begins the moment we are saved. By the way, this is the final message and maybe next year during Easter we can go further.

1 Corinthians 15   22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power…58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Overall Background: So far in this series we learned that when we receive Jesus as our Savior, we receive a spiritual resurrection. Our soul comes alive and we are made to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In other words, when we get saved, spiritually, we’re already in heaven. But that’s just the beginning because one day Jesus is coming again and He’s bringing the rest of heaven with Him. He will not only transform this creation into the New Heavens and the New Earth but He will also transform our physical body into a glorious body like His. What all this means is that we’re not waiting to go to heaven when we die but heaven is coming here to us. What if you die before Christ comes? Then you will also come alive at His appearing with a glorious transformed body. This morning we will go one step further – if you want to know what our future and the future of this world looks like, look to Jesus. He is not only our sample but He is also our source of heaven. He is not only our model but He is also our means to heaven. He is not only our pattern but He is also our pathway to heaven. Jesus is everything.

Question: How important is Jesus to you? Do you look to Him with hope and anticipation? Is He just your fire insurance or is He also your future hope? Are you pressing towards Him? Here is another question: Are you saved? Is Jesus your Savior?

There’s a lot packed into 1 Corinthians 15. We don’t have time to look at every detail. We’re only going to see 2 things about Heaven Here and Now:

I. JESUS IS OUR FUTURE SAMPLE.

1Corinthians 15   20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Background: What are “Firstfruits?” = That word comes from the Old Testament. God had commanded His people Israel that each year before they harvested the crops, they were to bring a sample of their crop or their flock to the priest as an offering to the Lord. In fact, the full harvest could not be made until the firstfruits had been offered. It was a promise that more just like it was coming.

For e.g. For our culture, a better term would be “sample.” When you go by the food court at the mall, they offer samples. It means there’s a lot more of what you just tasted. If you liked it, there’s much more behind the counter.

So also Jesus is our firstfruit, our sample. 22 For as in Adam all die…” So far, Adam was our sample. He fell under the curse of sin and all of us have fallen with him. “…even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. There’s something more here regarding “firstfruits” than just being a sample. There’s also a divine order of things. When I go to the food court, I don’t have to eat the sample in order to buy the meal. In fact, many times I just get in line because I know exactly what I am getting. That’s not allowed here. You have to get the sample before you can get the meal.

Let me say it as clearly as possible – Unless you have received Christ as your Savior, there’s nothing waiting for you on the other side but judgment and hell. There’s a divine sovereign order to things – first Christ and then you.

So what does this sample taste like:

  1. It will be an ever-improving body.

42 “…The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” All translations fail to capture the true meaning of these words. It’s not just that we won’t die. The idea here is decay. Daily our bodies are going down hill and one day we die and immediately we begin to decay. The new body will anti decay, go backwards. It will get better and better – “ethically, aesthetically, and psychosocially.”

  1. It will be a sin free, shame free, Christ like body.

43 “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory…” Again, “dishonor” should be translated “humiliation,” which has the idea of weakness, grief, sinful struggles, and old burdensome habits. “Glory” here means without the burden of sin, guilt and Christ like.

For e.g. Spring is here and soon we will see caterpillars. Ever seen one crawling – puts down his front end, lifts up his back end to his front end, makes a big arch in his back and then he straightens out by pushing his front end forward. Starts all over again. Looks quite painful and tiresome. There he is – a tiny little creature, crawling in the dust and we run over them with our vehicles or walk over them. I imagine he often looks to the sky and says to himself “Oh I wish I could fly. If only I had wings, I would catch the wind and go from garden to garden, plant to plant, and flower to flower. But that is not for me. I am just a caterpillar – crawling around.” One day he realizes that his days on earth are done – his instincts take over and he realizes that his days on earth as a caterpillar are coming to a close. He begins to build himself a coffin. He crawls inside and pulls down the lid. Now it dies to the only life it had known. There it hangs to a branch. Then all of a sudden something begins to happen – he hears a voice and feels a strange movement in his body. Again, impulse (after years of evolution! Not really.) tells him it is time. He went in a caterpillar but he comes out a butterfly.

  1. It will be an ever-energizing body.

43 “…It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” “Weakness” represents the lack of ability to do things the way you want to or the way you were used to. It represents the growing frustration throughout life. Recently we met someone who was struggling with a sickness. In his younger days he was very strong and virile. Even though his mind now was just as sharp as back then his body was no longer cooperating and it was very frustrating for him. The new body will be powerful, which actually has the idea of every increasing in power and capacity and competency. We will have more and more energy.

  1. It will be a Holy Spirit indwelt body.

44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. This is probably the most misunderstood of all the descriptions. Typically, people translate this as physical versus non-physical. That’s where people are misguided into thinking that we will be like spirits in long robes, sitting on puffy clouds, and playing the harps. The correct translation implies that in the coming body we won’t have to pray – “Holy Spirit – please fill me today and control my life.” It will be completely filled by the Holy Spirit and always in His control.

Application: Is Jesus your sample? Have you ever received Him as your Savior? Are you looking to Him? Are you looking for His return? Are you looking forward to the new you to come?

II. JESUS IS OUR VICTORIOUS KING.

24 Then comes the end…

Background: There’s so much we still don’t understand about the end of the world. I preached a series for about a 1 ½ year through Daniel and Revelation but there’s so much I still don’t understand and I am still learning. Here it is enough to say that our world is under the control of a structured system of sin and evil, both demonic and human. Just like us, the world is also under decay, shame, weakness, and ordinary existence. Jesus will fight and defeat this organized anti-god system. He will do for the world what His Father did for Him and what He will do for our lowly bodies. The result will be a new creation. This world is beautiful but you can only imagine what it will be like once Jesus sets it free and remakes it! Then 2 things will happen 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. In other words, He will free this world, remake it, and turn it over to the rightful owner, His Father.

What else? 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. Martin Luther explained this the best for me (I’m paraphrasing) – We are living in the kingdom of faith where Jesus is ruling through His Word. He is invisible. It’s like seeing the sun through the clouds. The light rays tell us that the sun is there but you really can’t see the sun. But, there’s a day coming when the clouds will part and both light and sun will shine together. In this phase 2 Old Testament prophecies will be fulfilled – Psalm 110:1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” And Psalm 8:6 “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” Now here comes verse 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. The actual translation should be “The last enemy is being annihilated, which is death.” Every time we drive past a funeral home or cemetery it reminds us that death is still claiming its victims. This verse promises us that Jesus already began the process of killing death 2000 years ago but there’s coming a day when he will finally destroy death forever. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. Meaning: Here’s the doctrine of the eternal functional subordination of the Son. Now, God will be the source and goal of everything and everyone.

When will this final end be? Jump over to verse 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… Nicole’s dad had this verse framed and put by the nursery door!52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus? If not, you are still under the grip of death.

Knowing that Jesus is our future sample and Jesus is our victorious King, how should we live here and now? Paul tells us 3 things:

  1. Stand firm and do not shift – 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable…” It’s the same thing that he told the Colossians and Philippians. Don’t let your circumstances shake you.
  2. Keep working more and more for God. “…always abounding in the work of the Lord…” Ask yourself – “Is what you are doing counting for God?” Then do more.
  3. Remember, you are building the kingdom to come – “…knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” In other words, there is continuity between this life and the life to come. What you do matters. Everything is ministry. Minister where you are.

Are you saved? Are you living here and now with your eyes on the future? Are you doing all things for the glory of God? Do you know people who are lost? Are you reaching them?

Heaven Here and Now – Part One

HEAVEN HERE AND NOW – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

heavenhereandnow_1Introduction: With Easter 2 weeks away, I am preaching a short series starting this Sunday called – “HEAVEN HERE AND NOW.” The focus of this series is on the resurrection of Jesus and what it means for us now, not just some day after we die.

Colossians 3   1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Overall Background: Typically during the Easter season I preach first on the cross and then on the Resurrection. Although both are very important for believers, I place special emphasis on the cross. Why? Because the cross is the emblem of Christianity. Without the cross, there is no forgiveness of sin. Without the cross, we have no hope of redemption. Without the cross, we are doomed. As the song goes – “At the cross, At the cross, I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You. Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white. I owe all to You, I owe all to You Jesus.” The cross is central.

But this time I’ve decided to do a series solely on the Resurrection, not because I think it’s more important than the cross. It’s because we have a very limited understanding of the Resurrection. If we truly understood the implications of the resurrection of Jesus, it would change the way we live in this life. It would change the way we see our world. It would change the way we think about heaven. Once you get a glimpse of what the resurrection of Jesus has done already and once you get a taste of God’s Resurrection power in us, you’ll be like the first disciples – unafraid, full of joy, and God’s agents of transformation in this world.

Question – What do you believe about the resurrection? How do you see yourself? Weak, defeated, just surviving, and waiting to get out of this world. How do you see this world? Worthless, hopeless, depraved, and only fit to be destroyed. But before we go any further, let me back up and reiterate – There is no resurrection without the cross. Before you can run to the empty tomb, you have to stop by way of Calvary. Are you saved? Before you can celebrate Easter, you have to observe Good Friday.

Today we will learn 2 things from Colossians as to what Resurrection means for us:

I. YOU ARE ALREADY RESURRECTED IN CHRIST. 

1 If then you were raised with Christ,

Background: Before we jump into that verse we need to understand a little bit of the background here. The Christians in Colossae were not saved under Paul’s direct ministry but under the work of one of his co-workers, probably a man by the name of Epaphras. This man of God taught them the truth of the gospel to the best of his ability. Paul describes him in Colossians 1:7-8 as “our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.” These were Spirit filled believers. But, lately, it appears that some false teachers and false teachings were infiltrating the church. Maybe, Epaphras could not handle some of their arguments and philosophies. Maybe, he wasn’t as educated and trained as Paul and he must have asked Paul for some help. Paul says, “Not a problem. I’ll write to them.”

Application: Be teachable. Sometimes people come with the attitude of – “I already know.” Just because you read 2 books and went to Google University does not mean you know it all. God wants to teach you through His Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe these false teachers were taking the Colossian Christians back to the rules and regulations of the Law. Maybe they were compelling them to be circumcised. Therefore Paul says to them in Colossians 2 11 “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism…” In other words, in Christ, you died and in Christ, you were buried. That’s what baptism is all about. It symbolizes my death and burial in Christ. But Paul does not stop there – “in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” When you come out of the water, it symbolizes your resurrection with Christ. Isn’t that beautiful?!!! Baptism doesn’t get you saved or clean your sins. It tells the world that you are one with Christ. So now don’t try to go back to the old religion and do what has already been done for you in Christ.

Colossians 2 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle…” Please don’t misunderstand – “Daily we have to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. But this death is not circumcision, Sabbath keeping, or dietary regulations. This cross is simply a reminder that I have chosen a life that imitates the life of Jesus.”

Now we return to Colossians 3:1 “If then you were raised with Christ…” Did you know that you are already risen with Christ? Paul says the same thing in Romans 6:11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Again, in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Application: Do you believe that you are already resurrected in Christ? Do you believe that you are already alive in Christ? You wouldn’t think so talking to some people. The Colossians were struggling with it. Are you struggling with it? Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes.

II. START LIVING THE RESURRECTED LIFE. 

Colossians 3   1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Background: What a powerful jolting truth! There’s nothing more that needs to be done for you. Start living like you are already in heaven sitting next to Christ at the right hand of God! Paul has talked about the same truth in Ephesians 2 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, (He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Did you know that physically speaking I’m standing before you but spiritually speaking I’m sitting in the heavenly places in Christ? Manley Beasley would say, “One of the surprises we will get when we get to heaven is to realize that we have already been there!”

Now, someone is bound to say – “All that is well and good but it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. It’s just like Peter Pan. If you want to fly to Neverland, all you need is faith and trust, a little bit of pixie dust, and think of the happiest things.”

Paul anticipated this objection. Listen to what he says 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. But I cannot see it. Paul replies in verse 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Meaning: Until you can see with your eyes, you will have to walk by faith.

So do we just sit here and look up? The rest of the letter is instructions on how to have heaven here and now.

  1. Take your sin seriously.

Colossians 3   5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

  1. Put on your new nature

Colossians 3   12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

  1. Please God in your home.

Colossians 3   18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 20   Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

  1. Please God in your workplace.

Colossians 3   22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. 4:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

  1. Pray continually.

Colossians 4   2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

  1. Walk wisely.

Colossians 4   5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

This is Heaven Here and Now.

Invitation: Are you ready to come out of Hell? Do you claim to have love in the Spirit? Are you in heaven now? Are you saved?

DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK – 1 John 1:2 by Abidan Paul Shah

Daily Devotions from the Original Greek – 1 John 1:2 by Abidan Paul Shah

Papyrus 9, 1 John, 4,11–12,14–17 - recto

Papyrus 9, P. Oxy 402, 3rd century, 1 John, 4,11–12,14–17 – recto

1 John 1:2 – Καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν, καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον, ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν.

Parsing[1]:

Καὶ = And (conjunction coordinating from καί)

ἡ = the (definite article nominative feminine singular from ὁ)

ζωὴ = life (noun nominative feminine singular common from ζωή)

ἐφανερώθη = was revealed (verb indicative aorist passive 3rd person singular from φανερόω)

καὶ = and (conjunction coordinating from καί)

ἑωράκαμεν, = we have seen (verb indicative perfect active 1st person plural from ὁράω)

καὶ = and (conjunction coordinating from καί)

μαρτυροῦμεν, = we testify (verb indicative present active 1st person plural from μαρτυρέω)

καὶ = and (conjunction coordinating from καί)

ἀπαγγέλλομεν = we report (verb indicative present active 1st person plural from ἀπαγγέλλω)

ὑμῖν = to you (pronoun personal dative plural from σύ)

τὴν = the (definite article accusative feminine singular from ὁ)

ζωὴν = life (noun accusative feminine singular from ζωή)

τὴν = the (definite article accusative feminine singular from ὁ)

αἰώνιον, = eternal (adjective accusative feminine singular no degree from αἰώνιος)

ἥτις = whoever (adjective pronoun relative nominative feminine singular from ὅστις)

ἦν = was (verb indicative imperfect active 3rd person singular from εἰμί)

πρὸς = with (preposition from πρός)

τὸν = the (definite article accusative masculine singular from ὁ)

πατέρα, = father (noun accusative masculine singular from πατήρ)

καὶ = and (conjunction coordinating from καί)

ἐφανερώθη = was revealed (verb indicative aorist passive 3rd person singular from φανερόω)

ἡμῖν. = to us (pronoun personal dative plural from ἐγώ)

My Translation:

1 John 1:2 – And the life was revealed and we have seen and we testify and we report to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was revealed to us.

Some Devotional Thoughts:

John tells his readers that Jesus the life was revealed to this world. In other words, Jesus did not come through the agency of any human being or institution. He was revealed from above. As one of the disciples he was privileged to see Him. He is so sure of this that he is willing to testify about it. Now he wants to go about reporting about this eternal life. Again, the origin of the eternal life was not with human beings but with the Father. Once again, it is so awesome to see how much John is consumed with the appearance of Jesus. It was unlike anything on earth. In fact, Jesus is eternal life come down from the Father.

Here are some questions for all of us – “Are we consumed with Jesus?” “How much does He occupy our minds, thoughts, and daily conversation?” “Are we willing to testify to others that we have seen Jesus, albeit spiritually?” “What have we substituted for Jesus?” “Is Jesus eternal life to us?”

[1] The parsing is taken from Bible Works 10

HAVE YOU HEARD THE TRUE GOSPEL?

HAVE YOU HEARD THE TRUE GOSPEL? by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Have You Heard The True Gospel-Sincerity means nothing. Truth is everything. Let me illustrate in a way that will connect the best at this time of the year when people are changing their screen savers to some beach scene from the Caribbean. You can put on your tropical shirts; you can spray your house with Ocean surf scent; you can even buy some tropical fruits; but unless you save up some money, make your reservations, get on that plane and fly there, you’re only daydreaming. Oh by the way, God forbid if you did save some money but bought the wrong ticket.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Overall Background: The passage we just read comes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. Paul founded the church in Corinth. He stayed there 18 months and had a powerful impact – rulers, aristocrats, and the wealthy got saved; middle class, working class, and poor got saved; people with horrible lifestyles got saved – adulterers, drug abusers, alcoholics, thieves, hoodlums, and roughnecks got saved. Then Paul moved on to Ephesus. While there, he began to hear that things were not going well among the Corinthian believers. They were slipping back into their old sinful lifestyles; there were sharp disagreements between people in the church; they were confused about certain important doctrines; but, most importantly, they had forgotten the gospel – the very thing that had saved them. Paul wrote this letter to bring them back to the fundamentals.

Listen to verse 1 – “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel…”

Background: What is this word “gospel?” It comes from two English words “good” and “spell.” We know “good” but the word “spell” is the old Anglo-Saxon word that meant “news.” So good spell = good news. For some odd reason, the translators did not translate the Greek word euanggelion into “good news” but left it as “Gospel.” It should be the Good News of Matthew, the Good News of Mark, and so on.

What does this Good News do? Listen again to verse 1 – “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,” 2by which also you are saved. The Good News is what saves you.

Application: This morning only you and God truly know where you are. The Holy Spirit has brought you to this place so you can hear the Good News. If you have never made the decision to receive Jesus as your Savior, you are lost. You need to be saved. If you are truly saved, then this message will help you appreciate the Good News and you can share it with others.

So what is this True Gospel?

I. IT WAS NOT CREATED BY HUMAN BEINGS. 

3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 

Background: Paul understood the gospel very well. Paul used the word “gospel,” in its various forms, 84 times in his letters. He preached the gospel everywhere he went. But he acknowledged right from the start that he did not create the gospel. He was just a recipient of the gospel.

Whom did he receive it from? Now someone might say – Oh Paul must have received it from Jesus’s disciples. Listen to what he said to the Galatians in 1:11-12 “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Meaning: Jesus Himself gave him the Good News.

For e.g. People often say to me, “I guess that’s what Baptists believe.” It’s not about Baptists or Methodists or Pentecostals or Presbyterians or Episcopalians or Catholics or Orthodox. There is only one Gospel and it transcends all denominations and churches.

II. IT BEGINS WITH THE BAD NEWS FIRST.

Listen again to verse 3 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” There is the Bad News – Two words: “our sins.” What is sin? Sin is going against God. It is our tendency towards evil. No matter how much we try to be good, we do what is bad and displease God.1. It was not created by human beings.

Where did we get this nature? Listen to Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” Meaning:Sin was passed down by Adam to everybody in the race. It is hereditary.We are all infected by the same germ of sin. We came into this world defective.

For e.g. You can see the evidence of that in a toddler. No matter how nice the parents are and how wonderful is their surroundings, let another toddler go after their toys and they will leave whatever they are playing and snatch it away and scream “mine.”

Because of our sin nature we do sinful things. Even the best people lie, cheat, get angry, get envious, jealous and on and on.

What is the outcome of being a sinner? Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death” Meaning:Because of Sin, every human is born spiritually dead. We cannot connect with God. Then one day physical death comes which brings with it eternal death. Now we are forever separated from God. We are headed to a place of punishment for sins and eternal separation from God. It’s called Hell.

Why doesn’t God just pardon everybody? Because that would lead Him to compromise His holiness. If He did that, there will be no more perfection. For God to be god, He has to be perfect.

Application: If you are a human being, then you are spiritually dead. One day you will be physically dead and then you will be eternally dead in a place of punishment and separation from God.

III. IT IS GOD KEEPING HIS PROMISE TO SAVE US.

Listen again to verse 3 onwards – that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 1. It was not created by human beings. 2. It begins with the bad news first.

Background: Did you notice that twice it says – “according to Scriptures.”? What Paul is saying is that the plan of salvation was God’s idea, promised, initiated, executed and completed by Him.

First, Jesus died as God promised in His Word.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin,

According to God’s promise, Jesus was to become an offering for our sin. The only way God’s wrath against sin could be satisfied is the soul that sinned would die. Someone might say – “that’s too harsh.” Then, you don’t understand how holy God is. Holiness cannot tolerate even a speck of sin. Every sin is worthy of death. But God knew that we couldn’t die for our own sins. Our body, soul, and spirit cannot handle it. The only one capable of taking this death upon Him is God Himself. Hence, Jesus Christ became my substitute.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Jesus took my penalty of sin by shedding His blood to satisfy God’s wrath.

What happened next? Jesus was buried but He came alive on the third day, as God promised in His Word.

Psalm 16:9-10 “…My flesh also will rest in hope. 10For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

Why did Jesus have to come back to life? Listen to Peter describing Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 2:24 “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”

#1. Jesus was Holy. #2. Jesus was and is God.

DEATH TRIED TO HOLD DOWN JESUS FOR THREE DAYS. IT GAVE UP. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO HOLD DOWN THE PRINCE OF LIFE.

If Jesus remained dead, history would define His life in just 2 words: HE TRIED. Jesus was a Nice Guy, Great Guy, a Well-meaning Guy, but a Dead Guy. Same thing that will one day kill us, killed Him. Thanks for trying.

He rose again and as He was leaving the grave – “By the way, Death – that sting belongs to me.” Revelation 1:18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

The Gospel –

  • It’s NOT the Bible. The Bible contains the Gospel but the Gospel is more specific.
  • It’s NOT the 10 commandments or the Beatitudes or the Golden Rule.
  • It’s NOT going to Church, getting baptized, and feeling sorry for all the bad you’ve ever done.
  • It’s NOT trying to be a better person, better husband, better wife, better neighbor, better citizen, better worker, and giving your time/money to help others.
  • It’s NOT giving all your problems to God and trusting Him and praying to Him to help you.
  • It’s NOT believing in God, Angels, and Satan.

The Gospel is Jesus Died on the Cross for my sins. He was buried and rose again on the third day to give me victory over death.

Application: Which gospel are you trusting in?

IV. IT HAS TO BE BELIEVED TO BE EFFECTIVE.

5and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.1. It was not created by human beings. 2. It begins with the bad news first. 3. It is God keeping His promise to save us.

Why did Paul give this list of witnesses? Were these the only ones who heard that Jesus was alive? These were the only ones who believed that He died for their sins, was buried, and rose again to bring eternal life.

The gospel demands a decision. Listen to Paul’s answer to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30-31   30And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Some people say:

–       I need to be a better person – NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU.

–       I need to turn everything over to God – NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU.

–       I need to read the Bible and pray every day – NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU.

–       I need to give up all my bad habits – NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU. (You can’t change without the Holy Spirit.)

–       I need to repent of all my sins; feel sorry for all the bad I have done – NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU. Nothing wrong in feeling bad for what you’ve done but that’s not going to save you.

SALVATION IS A GIFT THAT HAS TO BE RECEIVED BY FAITH.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,”

Application: There are people sitting here this morning who are trying to work for this gift. You are in for a rude awakening on the other side because you are trusting in your own self to save you. Satan has you fooled. You are lost. You are trying to give up your bad habits, turn over your life, make Jesus your Lord – none of that will work because it is you doing the work. All that comes after you get saved. The Holy Spirit helps you.

Listen again to Romans 10:9-10 9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

YOU WANT TO BE SAVED? BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST HAS DONE WORK OF SALVATION. ALL YOU CAN DO IS RECEIVE THIS GIFT BY FAITH.

Don’t I need to repent for my sins? Doesn’t Peter say in Acts 2:38 38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”Both the OT and NT meaning of the word “repentance” is “to change one’s mind.” Peter is telling the Jewish people that they had just crucified their Messiah and they needed to repent – change their mind about Jesus Christ. They had just crucified the King of Kings.

All of us have some idea about who Jesus is. When you come to Christ – you have to change your mind about Him and accept Him as YOUR GOD AND SAVIOR.

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